Fight for Gender Equality: What is next?

Despite having the first female Vice President Kamala Harris, women are still underrepresented in political office. According to a study done by Rutgers University, there is only a small number of women in political office at the municipal level: “Currently, 30.5% of municipal seats are occupied by women, compared to 30.9% of seats in state legislatures.” At the congressional level, women only hold about 26% of elected offices. There are two major reasons as to why more women are not in political office: election aversion and voter bias against women. Usually, women that decide to run are overqualified and are able to overcome this initial bias. One solution to this bias is better voter education in general.
Earning the right to vote in 1920, women have come a long way since the days of women’s suffrage under Susan B. Anthony’s leadership. Shirley Chisholm was the first female, major-party candidate to run for president. 1984 saw Geraldine Ferraro become the first female vice-presidential candidate. Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House in 2007. These women paved the way for Kamala Harris to become Vice President. Women make up half of the United States population, but, again, only 26% percent of women hold office at the congressional level. Congress is supposed to be a representative body, but its current members do not represent the American population, specifically when it comes to gender.
2020 saw more women of color and LGBTQ+ identity run for office. In an article titled “The State of Women’s Leadership—And How To Continue Changing the Face of U.S. Politics,” Robin Bleiweis and Shilpa Phadke stated: “Whereas women held 127 seats in Congress in 2019, they will surpass that record with 142 women serving in 2021. This historic group of congresswomen includes a record-breaking 51 women of color and at least two women who identify as LGBTQ…” Women are making strides towards equal representation to close the gap between the number of men in political positions.
In order to fix this gender disparity, Diana O’Brien, a professor at Texas A&M, suggests that American politics adopts a quota system when it comes to elected officials. Women are also underfunded, more often than not, when they are running for office; offering more public campaign financing would help these women. It is the responsibility of the government and of the political system in general to have the congressional and other governmental bodies as a whole represent the American population.

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